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Iain Wylie, CEO of the Garden Centre Association, sat down with Garden Centre Retail to talk about his experience in the industry, to refl ect on the annual conference that took place in January, and update us with what the GCA has planned for 2014.

Could you talk us through where you came in to the industry, what got you into it, and how you worked your way up? I have been involved in the industry for many years, most recently as Managing Director of Grosvenor Garden Centre until 2012. I joined the GCA in the autumn of that year following the departure of the Chief Executive in summer, on an interim basis at what was a busy time for the GCA. There was the e-learning project to complete and a conference on the horizon. It was a pleasure to take up the role as it kept me within the industry and an opportunity to ‘put something back’ into the industry.

Who selects the Chief Executive? The executive committee as a whole approve the appointment, but within that there is a sub group with more involvement with the selection process directly. I was approached and agreed to see things through beyond the 2013 conference and into the spring as Interim Chief


Executive. Later in the year the full process was launched with proper applications and interviews. It wasn’t the case that just because I’d been doing it for a while I may as well carry on, I had to go through the full process. I prefer it that way, as I can say that I am the best person for the job because I have been through the interview process. I may not have had past experience in running a trade association, but my time in the industry and knowledge of it is a huge help, which I apply to this role as Chief Executive. If I’d have come in as an expert on trade associations but not the garden retail industry it would have been a lot harder. Not only do I know the members, but I understand the problems and issues they face on a day to day basis, and therefore get a feel for what they want out of the association.

vie w fr om the t op

with Iain Wylie

Who runs things on a day to day basis? Myself, Pat Adams, and Anthony Snow our instructional designer who works on the GROW e-learning project. It’s just us three members of the GCA team. Will Armitage is our new chairman who came in at the AGM during this year’s conference, taking over from Peter Burks. We’ve got Will for the next two years and our chairman-elect, Julian Winfi eld is set to take over from Will in two years’ time. It needs to be a lean organisation, and we need to run it as economically as possible. We work closely with the members so the fewer of us, the more personal we can be as an association.

What do you think are the main industry issues for 2014? From an industry perspective, we need a

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